A Light in the Dark

Allee Richards

A Light in the Dark
Hachette Australia
30 August 2023

A Light in the Dark

Allee Richards

Iris doesn't remember the first time she met Nina. But she remembers the first time she paid attention to her. It was when he did.

The first year of high school brought Iris into a type of privilege she'd never felt part of. But then she found her place. The magic of performing in school musicals and the freedom of the stage opened her up to a new world. Her drama teacher gave her a glimpse of the adult she wanted to be. But, just like in the theatre, when the spotlight is off you, it can be a lonely and neglected existence. For Iris, jealousy and bitterness will grow. For Nina, something more dangerous. Reckless anger and rumours will come to a head. And, years later, there is a reckoning for them all.

A Light in the Dark is a compelling novel that distils the magic of theatre as the backdrop for an unforgettable examination of friendship, vulnerability, power and abuse.


Iris loves musical theatre. She loves dissecting the words of plays, listening to a chorus belt out a number, and investigating the depths of even the most minor characters. There’s just one person standing in her way to great success: Nina. Pretty, talented and their drama teacher’s favourite student. However, as Iris’s jealousy, obsession and bitterness grow, so too does something far more sinister between Nina and their teacher.

Iris is not a perfect person – she seethes at the successes of others. Rage often consumes her. She isn’t a great friend or girlfriend – but she is real. There’s a naivety and hope in her character that makes me care about what happens to her. She feels so real that while I was reading, I couldn’t help but wonder if the author was writing about personal experiences – a mark of truly detailed and passionate writing.

Though the author’s first-person prose reads as passive and distant at times, this ties in nicely to the novel’s themes of memory and trauma (mimicking the confusing fogginess of repression, and the shame and grief that follow). While a bit of a slow burn at the start, Richards effectively details the preciousness of a young person’s passion for the arts. Melbournian readers will instantly recognise descriptions of many streets and landmarks, such as Sydney Road and La Mama Theatre, making the setting oh so real and tangible. Like a play, the book is divided into acts and follows Iris into early adulthood as she grapples with her past.

Ambition. Innocence. Power. These three terms encompass a novel that slowly and carefully unpacks how passion, creativity and abuse can be entwined, and how they can impact a person over the years. I loved it.

This item is in-stock at 7 shops and will ship in 3-4 days

Our stock data is updated periodically, and availability may change throughout the day for in-demand items. Please call the relevant shop for the most current stock information. Prices are subject to change without notice.

Sign in or become a Readings Member to add this title to a wishlist.